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by Dave Robinson

Last issue I briefly introduced Sabona readers to the seven DaWei Laws. It is the seventh, which states ‘serendipitous events are living proof that the universe is conspiring to provide whatever we need', to which I would like to give special attention in this issue. Whilst happily going about my job of teaching English to foreign students, I was suddenly confronted with the harsh reality that, while I might be a knowledgeable and diligent teacher, the students actually expect to have a bit more fun in class and not be bombarded with grammar, reading and writing. A discussion about their favourite meal or movie, would be quite adequate for their needs, providing them with ample opportunity to better their English while interacting with each other, without much input from me at all.

The fact was that I could be a more effective teacher by not being such an efficient one. Once aware of this, I resolved to change my teaching style. The change wasn't at all painful to implement and it reminded me of a previous lesson I had learnt when I realised how to lead people through situations without necessarily taking the lead.

When asked by my employer a few weeks later to take on the additional role of teaching hospitality management, I decided to adopt my newfound teaching style from the word ‘go'. Rather than present myself as the expert in hotel management and risk teaching my students things they might already know, I would simply make myself available to fill in gaps in their know-how that they themselves would identify. To do so, I allow the students to take the mandatory multiple choice test for each new module before I teach them anything. That way, both teacher and student discover what the students already know and don't yet know, so we can cut out unproductive lecturing time and optimise the productive use of our contact hours.

By the end of each module, the students are able to achieve 100% in the quiz and demonstrate adequately their mastery of the required competencies through a comprehensive practical case assignment. It means the students and I cover 20 hours of work in just 12 contact hours, while they have flexibility around the remaining eight hours each week. The arrangement works well because my afternoons are freed up, my employer saves a lot of money (as I am paid by the hour), and I can continue to teach my English classes two mornings a week.

Now, before the sceptics start to point out that my new improved teaching style just did me out of afternoon teaching hours, here's the serendipitous bit: In the very same week that my afternoons became free, I was invited to lecture at another university. The invitation came totally out-of-the-blue and the times they needed me corresponded exactly with my availability. What's more, the rate per hour is a lot more lucrative than the afternoon work I would have had.

I have found over and over that serendipitous events, often precipitated by a coincidence or even an accident, open up new opportunities for our optimal survival, learning and personal growth. Sometimes, serendipity stares us in the face and says ‘give me a chance to help you'.

Dr. Dave Robinson is a lecturing professor at Central Queensland University, principal director of The Academy of Business Acumen, adjunct professor at National Sun Yat-sen University in Taiwan, an entrepreneur, director of companies, consultant to business, author of books academic journals, surfer, musician and poet. He currently teaches English Language, Hospitality Management, Marketing, and Human Resource Management on the Gold Coast. Write to Dave: acumen.dar@gmail.com

Posted in humour |
Posted by Dave Robinson
20 Aug 2009

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